The National Hockey League’s Central Scouting Bureau released its final rankings for draft eligible amateur players on Monday. Not surprisingly, the top three North American skaters were Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog and Jonathan Huberdeau.
But those high picks are only a small part of the draft. What if your team has a low pick, or maybe no picks in the first round, who should you be hoping to get for that instant impact? Who is the sleeper of the 2011 draft?
Look no further than Daniel Catenacci of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
The five-foot-10 skater from Newmarket, Ont., was ranked 37th in the Central Scouting’s final report on domestic skaters, up from 43rd in January's midterm rankings.
When you mix in international skaters and goaltenders that means Catenacci could go as late as the third round of the NHL draft on June 24.
It’s an understandable fate when you look at the 18-year-old’s numbers from the Ontario Hockey League. Last season he had 26 goals and 45 assists with a minus-5 +/- rating and 117 penalty minutes. The year before that, Catenacci was a non-factor with 10 goals and 20 assists.
But Catenacci has a quality that most of his draft classmen lack: speed.
The above video is from the Canadian Hockey League Top Prospects game at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre on Jan. 19, when Catenacci put the afterburners on and broke open the scoring for Team Orr while shorthanded.
In that video it’s obvious that he’s by far the fastest player on the ice. In fact, he usually is, but that clip is exceptional. The guys in his dust are the best and brightest the CHL has to offer and yet they can’t catch him.
Earlier that week I attended the Next Testing session at the Mastercard Centre for Hockey Excellence where the Top Prospects were put through their paces. Dead sprints, agility tests, you name it, they did it.
Again, Catenacci was, by far, the best skater, outmanoeuvring and outpacing the other 40 or so players being tested. (You can see some of his performance here.)
At the Top Prospects skills competition, Catenacci was name the fastest skater, turning in a performance way ahead of the pack.
Why does all this matter? Because the thing that strikes most rookies when entering the NHL is the speed of the game. For their entire careers they’ve been one of the top players on their team, if not the best, and that usually includes being the best skater. But coming to the NHL they’ve finally found their level, and that doesn’t hold true anymore.
As a result, most rookies spend their first year as a professional trying to improve their skating and catching up to their teammates and opponents. It hurts their vision of the ice and impacts their ability to make plays.
Catenacci, presumably, won’t have that kind of trouble, since he should be able to keep pace.
His speed will also be an asset as he finds his role in the NHL. After all, what assignments are rookies usually given? Penalty killing, checking lines, defensive work and all with limited ice time. In all three cases, a fast skater will, pardon the pun, excel.
Although he’s not the prolific scorer that a Nugent-Hopkins, Landeskog or Huberdeau will be, Daniel Catenacci’s speed is an undeniable advantage that will make him NHL-ready before most of his peers and, hopefully, will increase his value come draft day. Certainly, any team will be lucky to have him on their depth charts.
Yes, that’s right, my week in junior hockey, not weekend.
Last week I grappled with a full slate of Canadian Hockey League madness as I helped cover the Top Prospects game, junior hockey’s annual showcase of the best draft-eligible talent, for the Canadian Press in addition to my regular duties.
It all started on Monday night when I went to the teams’ practices and interviewed Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Red Deer Rebels, currently ranked third amongst North American skaters by the NHL’s Central Scouting department.
I was really pleased with my finished profile. “Nugent-Hopkins focused on improving his game” illustrated how impressively modest and grounded this young play-making centre is.
“It’s been an eventful week for Red Deer Rebels star Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Just six days ago Nugent-Hopkins was ranked third among draft-eligible North American skaters by the NHL’s Central Scouting department. Days later, he was named captain of Team Orr for the Canadian Hockey League’s Top Prospects game Wednesday night.
The six-foot centre is keeping it all in perspective though and remains humble about the two achievements.” Read the rest at Yahoo! Sports Canada.
On Tuesday morning I went to watch the Next Testing combine where the skaters for the Top Prospects games were put through their paces to measure and compare their skating ability through a series of drills. I didn’t have a piece to work on, I just wanted to see what it was all about and get to take in some of the best young players in the game in person.
I was most impressed with two players during the combine: Daniel Catenacci of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and Sven Bartschi of the Portland Winterhawks.
Catenacci blew me away with his speed. I didn’t have a stopwatch or anything with me, but it was clear that he was by far the fastest player on the ice that morning.
Bartschi’s seemingly effortless strides really struck me. He could keep pace with most of his competition, often peeling away from most of them, apparently without breaking a sweat. Incredible.
Wednesday was the main event. I joined my CP colleague Shi Davidi at the Air Canada Centre. He did the game story for wide release while I was responsible for the game’s sidebar and producing the agate file for paginators across Canada.
The morning was spent doing media scrums around head coaches Don Cherry and Doug Gilmour as well as Gilmour’s assistant Wendel Clark.
It was during these free-for-alls that Cherry spoke out about the lack of respect amongst players in the NHL, leading to disastrous head shots like David Steckel’s blindside of Sidney Crosby at the Winter Classic. Of course, it was a hot news item for most of the day, with Shi and I at the centre of the maelstrom.
For my sidebar I wound up doing a notebook on four of the smaller stories within the game that was only distributed to print outlets, including this bit on Shane Prince of the Ottawa 67’s:
“It was the most unheralded player at the Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game game that made the biggest impact for Team Cherry on Wednesday night
Left-winger Shane Prince of the Ottawa 67's was the only member on head coach Don Cherry's squad to score in the 7-1 drubbing handed out by Doug Gilmour's Team Orr.
After Team Orr jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead by the game's midway point, Prince put Team Cherry on the board. Although it was his team's only goal of the game, the 18-year-old from Spencerport, N.Y., was glad to make a difference.
‘It's a good feeling,’ Prince said after the game. ‘It doesn't say everything about a player but it’s definitely nice to get a goal.’
When the two rosters of draft-eligible prospects were originally drawn up, Prince was left out despite being second in the Ontario Hockey League's scoring race with 21 goals and 55 assists, three points behind his 67's linemate Tyler Toffoli, who has 41 goals and 38 assists for 79 points.
It took a nagging injury to Gabriel Landeskog of the Kitchener Rangers – currently ranked first amongst North American skaters by the National Hockey League’s Central Scouting – to make space for Prince on Team Cherry.
Prince is ranked 35th.
‘I completely believe in fate,’ Prince said. ‘It was definitely fate for me to be here. When I got the news I was very excited.
‘It's an experience I'll never forget.’”
All in all, it was a very busy but productive week. Lots of fun and a great learning experience for me as a journalist. Best of all, I got to see my name in print as I helped break some news, easily the biggest thrill for a reporter.
Friday Jan. 21st 2011
QMJHL: TIGRES NEED SIX ROUNDS TO DOWN HALIFAX IN SHOOTOUT
It took six rounds in the shootout, but the Victoriaville Tigres earned the win on Friday night.
Goaltender David Honzik turned aside three of the six shooters he faced and made 29 saves in regular play as the Tigres out-lasted the Halifax Mooseheads 5-4 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action.
OHL: MRAZEK, 67'S BLANK SPIRIT
Petr Mrazek stopped all 36 shots he faced and rookie Sean Monahan scored one goal and set up another Friday as the Ottawa 67's put an end to a three-game slide with a 3-0 victory over the Saginaw Spirit in Ontario Hockey League action.
The shutout was Mrazek's third of the OHL season and sixth of his career. It came after he gave up six goals in each of Ottawa's season-high three consecutive defeats last weekend.
WHL: SEGAL EARNS FOURTH SHUTOUT OF YEAR, GIANTS BLANK COUGARS
Mark Segal made 30 saves to earn his fourth shutout of the year to lead the Vancouver Giants to a 3-0 victory over the Prince George Cougars in Western Hockey League action Friday night.
Darren Bestland, Matt Bellerive and Nathan Burns scored for the Giants (23-19-5), while Spencer Bennett recorded an assist to extend his point streak to 10 consecutive games in a Vancouver uniform.
Saturday Jan. 22nd 2011
QMJHL; TITAN SCORE FIVE UNANSWERED TO BEAT MAINEIACS
The Acadie-Bathurst Titan kept their hot streak alive with some clutch play on Saturday night.
Sebastien Trudeau's game-winning goal was one of five unanswered scores as the Titan rallied to a 6-3 victory against the Lewiston Maineiacs Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action.
OHL: ICEDOGS KEEP LEAGUE'S TOP HOME RECORD WITH WIN
The Hamilton brothers and Ryan Strome insured the Niagara IceDogs continued their home-ice domination Saturday.
Niagara maintained the Ontario Hockey League's top home record with a come-from-behind 5-4 shootout victory over the Sudbury Wolves.
WHL: BRAES SCORES OVERTIME WINNER AS HURRICANES TOP PATS
Cam Braes scored a goal, an assist and the overtime winner to lead the Lethbridge Hurricanes to a 3-2 win over the Regina Pats in the Western Hockey League Saturday night.
Landon Oslanski also had a three point night for the Hurricanes (16-22-9) with a goal and two assists.
Sunday Jan. 23rd 2011
QMJHL: SEA DOGS DOUBLE UP RIVAL REMPARTS
The Saint John Sea Dogs dealt a blow to their closest Quebec Major Junior Hockey League rival on Sunday afternoon.
Zack Phillips' power-play goal with seven seconds left in the second period stood as the winner in Saint John's 4-2 triumph over the Quebec Remparts.
OHL: STORM RALLY LATE IN THIRD TO STUN 67'S
Taylor Beck and Cody McNaughton scored 20 seconds apart in the final minute of the third period to lift the Guelph Storm to a 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the Ottawa 67's in Ontario Hockey League action Sunday.
The Storm (21-19-5) trailed 3-1 heading into the third period before Beck scored during a 5-on-3 power play to cut the lead to one.
It’s been too long since I did one of these posts, and for that you have my apologies.
The Canadian Hockey League takes a break every year over Christmas, which means, by extension, that I also get some vacation time.
After that, all three member leagues crank out games at an epic rate from Christmas to New Year’s Eve because the players aren’t in school. It’s also an opportunity for some of the lesser lights on the club teams to shine while their all-star teammates are playing in the World Junior Championship.
That run of games meant five consecutive shifts for me, and it was simply too daunting to recap in one of these blog posts.
Anyway, I don’t mean to offer up excuses, merely explanations.
The Canadian Hockey League season is now around its midpoint and it’s hard to not write about the top teams night after night. I could, in theory, make every round up revolve around the Quebec Remparts, Saint John Sea Dogs, Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors, Ottawa 67’s, Portland Winterhawks and the Saskatoon Blades.
That’s why I was so pleased with this past weekend. Sure, I still touched on those teams in the toppers of my roundups, but I also shone a light on other teams like the Shawinigan Cataractes, Gatineau Olympiques and Sudbury Wolves.
It can be tough in the bleak midwinter, but for at least one weekend I managed to keep things interesting.
Friday, Jan. 7th
QMJHL: HODHOD LEADS CATARACTES TO UPSET OF REMPARTS
The Shawinigan Cataractes cooled off the Quebec Remparts on Friday night.
Samuel Hodhod had a pair of goals as Shawinigan upset Quebec 4-1 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action.
OHL: SIX DIFFERENT 67'S SCORE IN VICTORY OVER PETERBOROUGH
Petr Mrazek stopped all 23 shots he faced Friday night and the Ottawa 67's received goals from six different scorers on their way to a 6-0 victory over the Peterborough Petes in Ontario Hockey League action.
The shutout was the second of the season for the Czech netminder, who backstopped the 67's to a sweep of the home-and-home series with the Petes.
WHL: FERRARO LEADS SILVERTIPS TO WIN OVER AMERICANS
Landon Ferraro broke out of a massive goal-scoring drought, finding the net twice to lead the Everett Silvertips to a 3-2 victory over the Tri-City Americans on Friday night in Western Hockey League action.
Ferraro, Everett's captain, had gone 20 games without scoring. But he ended his drought when he scored on his own rebound late in the first period to open the scoring. His power-play goal midway through the third period proved the difference.
Saturday, Jan. 8th
QMJHL: SEA DOGS CRUISE PAST MOOSEHEADS ON ROAD
The Saint John Sea Dogs continue to dominate the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Michael Kirkpatrick had back-to-back goals and two assists as the Sea Dogs crushed the Halifax Mooseheads 9-2 on Saturday night.
OHL: SUDBURY UPSETS LEAGUE-LEADING MAJORS
Andrey Kuchin scored twice, including a power-play goal, as the lowly Sudbury Wolves defeated the Ontario Hockey League-leading Mississauga St. Michael's Majors 6-5 on Saturday night.
Captain Marcus Foligno, Eric O'Dell, Mike Lomas, and Alex Racino also chipped in for Sudbury (13-24-2). Mathew Campagna and Josh McFadden both had a pair of assists.
WHL: AMERICANS CRUSH HURRICANES
There's no place like home for the Tri-City Americans.
Brendan Shinnimin and Adam Hughesman each had two goals and Mason Wilgosh had a goal and three assists to lead the Americans to a 9-4 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes in Western Hockey League action Saturday night.
Sunday, Jan. 9th
QMJHL: OLYMPIQUES WIN NINTH STRAIGHT GAME
The Gatineau Olympiques are rolling their way up the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League standings.
Raphael Lafontaine scored at the 11:30 mark of the third period as the Olympiques disposed of the Montreal Juniors 5-3 on Sunday afternoon.
OHL: TOFFOLI NETS HAT TRICK, ASSIST AS 67'S GET BY ATTACK
Tyler Toffoli had three goals and an assist as the Ottawa 67's earned a big 6-4 win over the Owen Sound Attack in Ontario Junior Hockey League action Sunday.
The four points give Toffoli an even 200 for his OHL career. He is in his third season with the 67's.
When I’m writing or editing Canadian Hockey League stories I always try to keep in the back of my mind that these players are amateurs.
Not just amateurs, but young men (and occasionally women) who are completing high school or starting university soon. More often than not they’re living far away from home, away from their families and friends.
Because of that, I try to focus on the positives in a game.
For example, I don’t like to mention who took a costly penalty that led to a power-play game-winning goal. It may have been an honest mistake and sometimes penalties are worth taking – like tripping or hooking to stop a breakaway.
Also, I try to avoid over-emphasizing that a team lost. I would never write “Bobby Jones made 10 saves in a losing effort.” There’s no need to underscore that a team lost, it’s already apparent in the story’s lede. It might be true, but it’s unnecessary to rub it in poor Bobby Jones’ face.
There’s just no need to go out of my way to point out the mistakes of amateur athletes who, in some cases, aren’t even old enough to vote.
But I had to break that rule for Friday’s Quebec Major Junior Hockey League round up. The Baie-Comeau Drakkar finally won their second game of the season, bringing an end to a 25-game losing streak, the third longest winless streak in league history.
Although most of the article detailed the historic significance of Baie-Comeau’s skid, there was a focus on the fact that they had won, and on the remarkable play of Lukas Cingel.
Friday, Nov. 26th 2010
QMJHL: DRAKKAR SNAP 25-GAME WINLESS SKID
It took months, but the Baie-Comeau Drakkar finally won again.
Lukas Cingel scored on the power play with 17 seconds left in the game to lead Baie-Comeau past the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies 4-3 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action Friday night.
It was just the second win of the season for the Drakkar, snapping a 25-game winless streak.
OHL: SPITFIRES TOO MUCH FOR GENERALS
Ryan Ellis was the star of the show without even scoring a goal on Friday night.
Zack Kassian scored twice and Ellis had three assists as the Windsor Spitfires defeated the Oshawa Generals 5-2 in Ontario Hockey League play.
Ellis, Windsor's team captain and the 2009 first-round draft pick of the Nashville Predators, was honoured in a pre-game ceremony for becoming the all-time leading scorer in Spitfire history.
WHL: SUNDHER LEADS BRUINS PAST LEAGUE-LEADING WINTERHAWKS
Kevin Sundher had two goals and two assists as the Chilliwack Bruins thrashed the Western Hockey League-leading Portland Winterhawks 7-2 Friday night.
Ryan Howse registered a goal and an assist, while the Bruins (12-9-3) scored seven unanswered goals in the second and third periods.
Saturday, Nov. 27th 2010
QMJHL: TIGRES' HONZIK BLANKS ROCKET
David Honzik is starting to find his legs in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Honzik made 27 saves as the Victoriaville Tigres rolled over the P.E.I. Rocket 6-0 on Saturday night.
It was the 17-year-old goaltender's first shutout in his rookie season in the QMJHL.
OHL: CATENACCI CONTINUES TO ROLL WITH TWO GOALS
Saturday night was a good night for scoring streaks in Barrie.
Daniel Catenacci scored a pair of goals to lead the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds to a 6-5 victory over the Barrie Colts in Ontario Hockey League action.
Catenacci, who extended his current goal streak to six games, has now picked up a point in 19 of his last 20 contests.
WHL: BOOMER LEADS ICE IN ROUT OF THUNDERBIRDS
Once the Kootenay Ice got scoring there was no stopping them Saturday night.
Kootenay ended a long scoring drought with three power-play goals in the first period and went on to rout the Seattle Thunderbirds 6-2 in Western Hockey League play on Saturday night.
Sunday, Nov. 28th 2010
QMJHL: SEA DOGS CONTINUE HOT STREAK WITH ROUT OF MOOSEHEADS
The Saint John Sea Dogs are riding their hot streak to the top of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League standings.
Zack Phillips opened scoring for Saint John with back-to-back goals as the Sea Dogs trounced the Halifax Mooseheads 7-1 on Saturday afternoon.
OHL: MAJORS WIN EIGHT IN A ROW FOR TEAM RECORD
Casey Cizikas, Devante Smith-Pelly and Riley Brace kept their team rolling on Sunday afternoon.
The line combined for four goals and seven points in leading the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors to a modern-era franchise record in the Ontario Hockey League with a 6-3 victory over the Owen Sound Attack.
Whether it’s picking a champion before a season begins or presaging the outcome of a draft, there’s a good chance a sports writer is setting themselves up to fail when they make predictions.
It’s inherent in sports journalism. The predictable nature of a season naturally lends itself to playing oracle.
You know there will be a Most Valuable Player award and even at the start of the season you can narrow it down to three or four likely candidates. Guessing who it’s going to be is easy copy and it gets the consumers involved in the debate as well. It’s too tempting to pass up.
Of course, more often than not, those predictions are way off and then you have readers sending you crank emails lecturing you on how you’re the wrongest wrong who ever wronged.
Hindsight is 20-20 and those bold statements, predictions of future success (or struggles) and deep explanations embedded in an article can sour quickly, ruining an otherwise fine piece of work.
I touched on this before in my review of SI’s Great Baseball Writing. Throughout that collection there are passages or even entire articles from the late 1990s and early 2000s that try to explain the sudden power surge late in the careers of Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa.
This is at the heart of the Sports Illustrated or EA Sports cover curses – the subject is chosen because of what they’re expected to achieve and, more often than not, they disappoint because they’re being held up to more intense scrutiny or our expectations (raised by the hype of being on the cover) are unrealistic.
Right now I’m reading Bill Simmons’ Book of Basketball and I’m making my way through his lengthy Pyramid section where he ranks the top 96 professional basketball players of all time.
It’s an entertaining and informative piece, until you get to the subchapter on Lebron James. Here’s a few paragraphs of the book that, in turn, were pulled from Simmons’ April 15, 2009 posting where he makes the case for James as NBA MVP.
“Not since Magic Johnson has a superstar doubled as such a galvanizing teammate. If there's an enduring image of the '08-09 season, it's the way LeBron stamped his personality on everyone around him. They orchestrate goofy pregame intros (my favorite: the team snapshot), trade countless chest bumps, giggle on the sidelines, hang out on road trips and support each other in every way. What's telling about LeBron's in-traffic dunks -- and he unleashes them more frequently than anyone since Dominique -- is how he seeks out his bench for feedback, and even better, how they give it to him. It makes the forced camaraderie of the Lakers seem glaring. If you want to watch a team that pulls for each other and follows the lead of its best player, watch Cleveland.
And if you're a Cavs fan trying to talk yourself into LeBron staying after 2010, your best chance is this: Through 24 years, LeBron has proven to be an inordinately devoted guy. When you're with him, you're with him. The upcoming documentary (supposedly superb) about his high school years bangs this point home. So does the fact that he jettisoned his agents and surrounded himself with high school buddies. So does everything that happened this season. He's as good of a teammate as a player. The more I watch him, the more I wonder if such an intensely loyal guy would ever say, "Thanks for the memories, everybody," dump his teammates, dump his hometown and start a fresh life elsewhere. Although he isn't surrounded by the most talented players right now, collectively, it's a team in the truest sense, with a devoted set of appreciative fans, and maybe that's all LeBron James will need in the end.
I thought he was a goner four months ago. I think he's staying now. Regardless, he's our Most Valuable Player for 2009. It won't be the last time.”
Although Simmons’ schtick is enthusiastic hyperbole, I do believe that he was very sincere in his belief that James is a loyal, team-oriented player and a true son of Ohio. And, credit where it's due, the Sports Guy was right that James would win NBA MVP in 2009 and that it wouldn't be his last.
But Simmons was wrong about Lebon's character. I think it's fair to say that the Decision, the hour-long ESPN special where Lebron announced that he was “taking his talents to South Beach” proved that as it ripped out the hearts of Cleveland Cavaliers’ fans and tarnished Lebon's image.
It turned out that James is not particularly loyal, that his high school friends/managers totally misread the impact of his television special and that the Lebron camp are so out of touch with his fanbase that they signed off on this ad for Nike, rubbing salt in the wound.
Yikes. Knowing what we know now, reading Simmons' glowing praise of Lebron makes me cringe.
In fairness to Simmons, he did change his mind as the free agency deadline loomed this past summer, backpedalling from his earlier belief that James was going to stay in Ohio as new information came to light.
And hey, it’s not like I haven’t made my own terrible calls. Long-time readers of this blog just need to think back to my March Madness predictions from this past spring, or my Canadian Hockey League playoff predictions from about the same time to see that I’m no seer myself.
I just want to underscore just how tricky this predictions game can be. It’s a wrinkle that makes sports journalism just a bit tougher, a little more unpredictable and definitely a lot more uncomfortable for columnists.
Blog posts, books, magazine covers, whatever, are all created in a particular moment but then stand forever.
Unfortunately, sports journalists are often called upon to make predictions, foresee the future and the incorrect guesses last much longer than the actual outcome ever does. It can turn good copy bad, real fast and it can also make me put down a book for a few minutes to reflect on how fleeting insight can be.
All three organizations in the Canadian Hockey League have their own style of play, their own personality.
Everyone knows that the Western Hockey League is rough-and-tumble prairie hockey, the Ontario Hockey League is defensively oriented and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is all scorers, goalies and good, clean play.
The QMJHL is also marked by streaky play. Teams can easily reel off wins in the double digits.
Winning streaks can reach crazy heights in the Q - the 1973-74 Sorel Eperviers hold the record with 25 in a row, but last year’s Saint John Sea Dogs came close, taking 22 consecutive games.
Saint John wasn’t the only team to embark on an impressive winning span last season either as the Drummondville Voltigeurs won 16 straight.
In fact, of the ten longest win streaks in QMJHL history, six have happened in the last decade and five in the past three years.
Therefore, it’s a big deal when a top team’s streak comes to an end because it might just shape their season and seriously affect the QMJHL’s playoff picture.
So when the Sea Dogs twisted the knife on the stumbling Quebec Remparts with a 6-0 victory on Sunday afternoon, it’s notable.
Almost as a direct result of that stomping, Saint John switched places with Quebec in the CHL’s weekly power rankings and stole the Remparts’ momentum, possibly shifting the balance of power in the QMJHL.
Don’t believe me? Consider the comment Chicago Blackhawks’ prospect Chris DiDomenico left on Sunday’s QMJHL round up on TSN.ca.
“A championship calibre team wins those 3 games in 3 nights. Our last road trip we had 4 games in 5 nights, the toughest schedule given to any team in the CHL this year. We went 4 wins 0 losses in that stretch and dominated the 4th game. Quebec has a good offensive team and a great goalie but defence wins championships. Saint John is solid at all ends of the ice including a surprising great goaltending from Piche and once Deserres gets back to his regular Memorial Cup form than expect a longer BMO #1 status than last year.”
DiDomenico knows what he’s talking about. He was drafted by Saint John in 2006 and was traded to Drummondville in 2008. In other words, he was a key player when the Voltigeurs ran wild for 16 games last season.
So now the big question is – will the Sea Dogs start racking up the wins after their big statement game against their nearest competition?
Friday Nov. 12th 2010
QMJHL: REMPARTS STOP SLIDE WITH WIN OVER TITAN
The Quebec Remparts are starting to turn things around after a disappointing week.
Jonathan Audy-Marchessault had two power-play goals as Quebec stopped a three-game slide with a 5-2 win over the Acadie-Bathurst Titan in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League play Friday night.
OHL: TOFFOLI'S HAT TRICK LIFTS OTTAWA TO WIN OVER STING
Tyler Toffoli provided just enough scoring for the Ottawa 67's on Friday night.
Toffoli scored all three goals as Ottawa posted a 3-2 win over the Sarnia Sting in Ontario Hockey League play.
WHL: SASKATOON DOWNS PORTLAND IN MATCHUP OF WHL'S TOP TEAMS
The Saskatoon Blades engineered a small upset in one of the most anticipated matches of the young Western Hockey League season.
Marek Viedensky had a goal and three assists as Saskatoon rallied past the Portland Winterhawks 4-3 Friday night.
Saturday Nov. 13th 2010
QMJHL: NADEAU AND THE VOLTIGEURS BLAST THE WILDCATS
Guillaume Nadeau made 17 saves as the Drummondville Voltigeurs shut out the Moncton Wildcats 4-0 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action Saturday night.
It was Nadeau's third clean sheet of his rookie season in the QMJHL.
OHL: KITCHENER RANGERS EARN RARE WIN IN PLYMOUTH
The Kitchener Rangers haven't had a lot of luck in southeastern Michigan.
Kitchener won for the first time in Plymouth since the 2007-08 season Saturday with a 3-2 victory over the Whalers in Ontario Hockey League action.
WHL: STONE SHINES DESPITE EJECTION IN WARRIORS VICTORY
Brandon Stone made an early exit, but he still got to take the final bow.
Moose Jaw's rookie goalie was tossed from the game with eight seconds left to play after stopping 32 shots as the Warriors shut out the Lethbridge Hurricanes 3-0 in Western Hockey League action Saturday night.
Sunday Nov. 14th 2010
QMJHL: SEA DOGS SERVE NOTICE TO REMPARTS WITH 6-0 WIN
The Saint John Sea Dogs made a strong statement Sunday afternoon.
Jacob DeSerres made 22 saves to earn the shutout as the Sea Dogs rocked the Quebec Remparts 6-0 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action.
OHL: LEBAR SCORES THREE IN FRONTENACS RALLY OVER SARNIA
The Kingston Frontenacs would not give up Sunday night.
Ryan Spooner scored in overtime as Kingston rallied to a 6-5 win over the Sarnia Sting in Ontario Hockey League action.
News stories at the start of the Canadian Hockey League season – really, any sport’s year – tends to focus on team events.
After all, there are team previews, predictions and personnel moves to write about. On the other hand, there are no individual accomplishments that are worth reporting on.
Let’s face facts: the current scoring leader isn’t that impressive when there are a dozen players within two points.
This weekend saw many of those individual stories finally begin to develop.
Friday night was the beginning of the latest chapter in Kiril Kabanov’s Quebec Major Junior Hockey League career as he debuted with the Lewiston Maineiacs, his third junior club in as many years.
On Sunday, Kitchener’s Jason Akeson and Ryan Murphy were put on centre stage as they continued to dominate the Ontario Hockey League’s scoring race, dishing out seven assists between the two of them as their Rangers easily handled the London Knights.
I wholly expect that, barring injury, Kabanov, Akeson and Murphy will be players that I write about all season.
Sure, there are still some team-oriented stories to write about, like Saturdayès story of the surprising losing skid of the top-ranked Quebec Remparts, but the development of individual storylines will help add a little diversity to my news stories.
Give the CHL a few more weeks and we’ll really see some of the individual characters start to shine in the QMJHL, OHL and Western Hockey League.
Friday, November 5th 2010
QMJHL: MAINEIACS DOWN FOREURS IN KABANOV'S DEBUT
The debut of Kiril Kabanov barely figured into the Lewiston Maineiac's impressive win streak on Friday night.
Olivier Dame-Malka scored twice, including the eventual winner, as Lewiston prevailed over the Val-d'Or Foreurs 5-2 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action.
OHL: SADIKOV STOPS 27 AS THE OTTERS BLANK ATTACK
Ramis Sadikov celebrated in style on Friday night.
The Erie Otters' second-year goaltender recorded his first Ontario Hockey League shutout in a 4-0 win against the Midwest Division-leading Owen Sound Attack.
WHL: ARONSON THE OVERTIME HERO AS WINTERHAWKS WIN OVER REBELS
Taylor Aronson scored 3:40 into overtime to give the Portland Winterhawks a 4-3 win over the Red Deer Rebels in Western Hockey League play on Friday night.
The Winterhawks spent most of the extra period in Red Deer's end of the ice, generating several chances.
Saturday, November 6th 2010
QMJHL: LEBLANC PP GOALS SENDS JUNIORS PAST REMPARTS
Suddenly, the Quebec Remparts don't look so hot.
Louis Leblanc's power-play goal early in the third period stood as the winner as the Montreal Juniors slipped by the Remparts 3-2 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action Saturday night.
OHL: WEREK AND SARAULT SO HEROES AS FRONTENACS EDGE BULLS
The Kingston Frontenacs just won't let up on the Belleville Bulls this season.
Kingston continued to have the Belleville's number Saturday night, pulling out a 3-2 shootout win in Ontario Hockey League action.
WHL; ROWINSKI'S THREE POINTS SPARK WARRIORS TO WIN OVER PATS
Brendan Rowinski scored twice and added an assist for the Moose Jaw Warriors in their 5-3 win over the Regina Pats in Western Hockey League action Saturday night.
Moose Jaw scored five unanswered goals to register their fifth-straight win.
Sunday, November 7th 2010
QMJHL: O'BRIEN LEADS TITAN PAST SAGUENEENS
Zach O'Brien and David Gilbert did most of the heavy lifting for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan on Sunday afternoon.
O'Brien and Gilbert had shootout markers to lead the Titan past the Chicoutimi Sagueneens 4-3 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action.
OHL: AKESON, MURPHY POWER KITCHENER PAST LONDON
Jason Akeson and Ryan Murphy are getting results through their unselfish play.
Akeson had four assists as the Kitchener Rangers had three unanswered goals to race past the London Knights 5-4 in Ontario Hockey League action Sunday afternoon.
Although I take a lot of pride in the writing I have to do as a junior hockey editorial assistant, that’s one of the smaller parts of what I do. Most of my weekend is spent editing the work of other writers.
The vast majority of game stories published by the Canadian Press have been written by reporters on location called stringers. Our junior hockey stringers send their work in to our office in downtown Toronto.
It’s then reviewed, changed (if necessary) and put out on the wire.
From start to finish the process should take approximately 5-10 minutes from the final whistle of a game. The better the stringer, the faster the turnaround.
So what do I look for in my stringers?
Speed – Thanks to the Internet I’ve got a pretty good idea of when the game ended. The longer it takes for a stringer to get the story to me, the more anxious I get. Why? Because if I know the game’s over, so do our readers and clients, and the news business is all about the quick and efficient spreading of information. If we’re not fast, we’re letting our consumer down.
Accuracy – Obviously, all that speed is wasted if there’s a mistake in the story. Having the correct score, players, spelling, even the date (yes, people mess up what day of the week it is) is all crucial. More than anything else, accurate copy is what makes a good stringer. If I have to check every stat on the Internet, you're not doing your job.
Clarity – My biggest pet peeve is when I can’t make heads or tails of what’s happening in the story.
A good stringer will have the final result, every scorer’s name (and how many points they had) and every goaltender’s stats in the first three paragraphs of their story. Basics like the team names, records, the league and the day of the week should be in the first paragraph.
Don’t hide the scorers at the bottom of the piece, or scattered throughout. Get down and dirty as quick as possible.
Simplicity – Straightforward writing goes hand-in-hand with clear writing. Don’t tell me that someone “tallied” or “netted” or “potted” a goal when you haven’t used “scored” yet. Even “Greg McKegg had two goals” sounds better than “McKegg potted two goals”.
A lot of stringers get a case of nerves and over-describe the play. Keeping it simple makes it easier to read and doesn’t clutter the reader’s mind. It also makes it less likely I’ll need to edit your masterpiece.
If you’re ever writing a game story just take your time and go with the simplest descriptions. Let your reader’s imagination fill in the blanks. Your personal style will shine through no matter what you do.
Fortunately for me, my crew of stringers was on fire this weekend and provided me with lots of great, easy to read copy. All of them met those four expectations, and it made my life much easier.
On to the round ups!
Friday, October 29th, 2010
QMJHL: MOSHER EARNS RARE SHUTOUT AS ROCKET BLANK MOOSEHEADS
It turns out that Evan Mosher is something of a late bloomer.
The 20-year-old goaltender made 28 saves as the P.E.I. Rocket blanked the Halifax Mooseheads 3-0 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action Friday night.
OHL: CIZIKAS POWERS MAJORS OVER KINGSTON
Casey Cizikas had a goal and set up two others Friday to power the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors to a 5-1 victory over the Kingston Frontenacs in Ontario Hockey League play.
Three minutes after setting Devante Smith-Pelly's opener, the 19-year-old Cizikas scored a short-handed goal to put the Majors up 2-0 with six minutes left in the first.
WHL: WINTERHAWKS BEAT ROCKETS IN NIEDERREITER'S RETURN
It was a rough homecoming for Nino Niederreiter on Friday night.
Brad Ross had the eventual winner as the Portland Winterhawks flew past the Kelowna Rockets 4-2 in a very physical Western Hockey League game.
Saturday, October 30th, 2010
QMJHL: BETY, MOOSEHEADS SURPRISE WILDCATS
Charles Bety and the Halifax Mooseheads are making the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League a little more competitive.
Bety had back-to-back goals as the Mooseheads upset the Moncton Wildcats 5-2 on Saturday night.
OHL: KERBASHIAN'S HAT TRICK HELPS SARNIA DOUBLE UP BRAMPTON
Kale Kerbashian saw his teammates reel off three-straight goals and figured he should join in on the fun.
Kerbashian had a hat trick to help the Sarnia Sting beat the visiting Brampton Battalion 6-3 in Ontario Hockey League action Saturday night.
WHL: KOPER'S SIX POINTS LEADS AS CHIEFS ROCK PATS
The Spokane Chiefs just kept coming on Saturday night.
Levko Koper had two goals and four assists to help Spokane light up the Regina Pats 11-1 in Western Hockey League play.
Sunday, October 31st, 2010
QMJHL: CHAMPAGNE IS OVERTIME HERO AS REMPARTS EDGE DRAKKAR
The Baie-Comeau Drakkar were close to a major upset Sunday afternoon, but not close enough.
Joel Champagne scored in overtime as the Quebec Remparts narrowly escaped defeat against Baie-Comeau to pull out the 3-2 win in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action.
OHL: SHUGG'S FOUR-POINT GAME IGNITES MAJORS TO WIN OVER SUDBURY
Justin Shugg scored three times and added an assist to guide the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors to a come-from-behind 7-5 victory over the Sudbury Wolves in the Ontario Hockey League on Sunday afternoon.
Chris Doyle had the eventual winner for the Majors (11-2-0), while Casey Cizikas, Jordan Mayer and Gregg Sutch also tallied.
WHL: ELLIOT'S LAST MINUTE GOAL LIFTS BLADES TO WIN OVER HITMEN
Stefan Elliott scored the game-winning goal with 59.1 seconds left in regulation to lead the Saskatoon Blades to a 5-3 win over the Calgary Hitmen in the only Western Hockey League game Sunday afternoon.
Curtis Hamilton added a empty netter for his second goal of the contest for the Blades (11-4-0), while Darian Dziurzynski and Braeden Johnson also scored.
A few days ago reader Badmash commented on my post "My weekend in junior hockey Oct. 8-10" to say: "I just signed up to your blogs rss feed. Will you post more on this subject?"
I already answered "Yes" to Badmash, but it reminded me that I should post a reminder of what my writing schedule looks like:
Mondays - I will be posting "My Weekend in junior hockey" articles every Monday for the duration of the Canadian Hockey League season.
Those posts have links to all of the round-ups I write and edit for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the Ontario Hockey League and the Western Hockey League. I also write a small column on top that summarizes the other articles or highlights something that interested me that weekend.
For those of you unfamiliar with these posts, you can read the latest one here.
Tuesdays - Just a good ol' fashioned blog post. Today's is taken up by this site administration post, but otherwise it'd be a book review, post about sports or some other well-considered rant.
Wednesdays - Last week's Top 10 Sports Books was so popular that I've decided to make it a regular feature of this blog. Reader suggestions are welcome. The sooner the better, since this is a Tuesday and I've got no ideas for tomorrow!
Thursdays - Just like Tuesdays I'll have a regular ol' post in this spot.
Fridays - Sorry folks, this is one of my days off. I need this time to align my chi for my junior hockey work. If you want to see the results of that deep meditation then go to TSN.ca search for "QMJHL" at approximately 11 p.m., "OHL" at 1 a.m. and "WHL" the next morning at 9. (All times Eastern)
Saturdays - Don't come to this site! Instead, head over to Hockeyprimetime.com and look at the Northeast Notebook that I wrote just for you. It usually goes up late on Saturday, although sometimes it shows up late Sunday.
Also, TSN.ca will have my junior hockey work from the Canadian Press. Check out Fridays' instructions to see how to find that work.
Sundays - I'm usually somewhat zombie-ish by this point, so this is my other day of the week off. QMJHL and OHL round-ups will be available at TSN.ca at about 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., respectively.
Of course, for little bite-sized pieces of my writing you should start following me on Twitter. My handle is @jchidleyhill. Typically, I use Twitter to point out interesting articles I've found and spread my alleged humour around.
There’s a lot to love about hockey, but I think all fans can agree is the unpredicatability of the game.
Hockey, and its befooted cousin lacrosse, is made up of a series of broken plays.
Yes, there are tactics and strategies that teams employ, but every minute of every game is completely different then the last. No lead is safe, and often the game is decided in the span of a few minutes of play.
The video above is a classic – if extreme – example of that unpredictability. What other sport offers a seemingly surefire score, then and incredible last-second tally in the span of 30 seconds? Only hockey.
Junior hockey was all about that kind of crazy drama this weekend, with several big games being decided in a quick burst.
Friday night started with a bang as the Quebec Remparts, the best team in the Canadian Hockey League, won their 10th game of the season with less than 20 seconds on the clock.
The Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors, the second-best team in the CHL, also had some last second heroics on Friday as Jordan Mayer scored in the last minute of overtime.
Fans of the Calgary Hitmen were treated to the same kind of action on Saturday night when Jaynen Rissling jumped out of the penalty box to corral an outlet pass and put away the winner in overtime.
Finally, back in the QMJHL the Val-d’Or Foreurs reeled off three goals in quick succession to top the Montreal Junior 4-2 on Sunday afternoon.
It’s just another reason to love hockey.
Friday, October 15th 2010
QMJHL: QUEBEC EARNS 10TH WIN BY EDGING SHAWINIGAN
The Quebec Remparts are still the hottest team in Canadian junior hockey.
Alex Wall scored the winner with seconds to spare as Quebec edged the Shawinigan Cataractes 3-2 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action Friday night.
OHL: MAYER'S OT MARKER RALLIES MAJORS PAST GREYHOUNDS
A timely power play made all the difference for the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors on Friday night.
Veteran centre Jordan Mayer scored with the man advantage in the dying seconds of overtime as Mississauga rallied to a 4-3 victory over the Sault St. Marie Greyhounds in Ontario Hockey League action.
WHL: ROCKETS SPOIL HOWSE'S CAREER MARK WITH WIN OVER CHILLIWACK
The Kelowna Rockets success overshadowed a landmark for Ryan Howse of the Chilliwack Bruins Friday night.
Colton Sissons' goal with 30 seconds left in the second period was the difference maker as the Rockets toppled the Bruins 4-3 in Western Hockey League action.
Saturday, October 16th 2010
QMJHL: MAINEIACS PREVAIL OVER RETOOLED DRAKKAR
Some personnel changes weren't enough to right the Baie-Comeau Drakkar's ship.
Jess Tanguy had back-to-back goals, including the eventual winner Saturday, as the Lewiston Maineiacs sank the Drakkar 4-1 in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League play.
OHL: CZARNIK, NOESEN LEAD PLYMOUTH PAST WINDSOR
Robbie Czarnik had a goal and an assist to lead the Plymouth Whalers past the Windsor Spitfires 4-1 in Ontario Hockey League action Saturday night.
"(Rickard) Rakell got in hard on the forecheck," Czarnik said about his goal. "He got to the puck before everybody else and got it to me and I snuck it by (Jack) Campbell."
WHL: RISSLING OT HERO AS HITMEN EKE OUT WIN OVER THUNDERBIRDS
Jaynen Rissling went from goat to great in a two-minute span Saturday night.
Rissling was the overtime hero by scoring an unassisted power-play goal to lift the Calgary Hitmen to a 3-2 win over the Seattle Thunderbirds in Western Hockey League action.
Sunday, October 17th 2010
QMJHL: FOREURS RAPID-FIRE ATTACK DOWN JUNIOR
It took less than two minutes for the Val-d'Or Foreurs to drop their division rivals Sunday afternoon.
Guillaume Naud had back-to-back markers, including the winner, as the Foreurs scored three quick goals in a 4-2 win over the Montreal Junior in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action.
OHL: NESBITT, MRAZEK STAR AS OTTAWA ROLLS PAST BRAMPTON
Thomas Nesbitt scored twice and added an assist and Petr Mrazek made 41 saves as the Ottawa 67's defeated the Brampton Battalion 5-1 in Ontario Hockey League play Sunday afternoon.
Nesbitt was very effective on special teams, scoring on the power play and short-handed.